Students began the trip with a visit to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial before journeying past the US Capitol and the US Supreme Court to the Rayburn House Office Building. There the group was met by T.W. Arrighi ’08, a former BC High Model UN officer currently working as communications director for US Congressman Jim Banks (R-Indiana). T.W. spoke about his work on Capitol Hill and how he had worked for then Kansas Congressman and now Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and former California Congresswoman Mimi Walters. He also spoke about his decision to attend Fordham University.
Half-way through the one-hour visit, Congressman Banks entered the room to speak with the students. An Army veteran of the Afghanistan War, he has served at other levels of elected government in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area. After the audience with Congressman Banks two staffers from his office took students through the underground tunnel system to the US Capitol on a guided tour.
While waiting in line for the visitors’ gallery of the Senate Chamber, Senator Elizabeth Warren walked by the group and stopped to shake hands. From the Senate gallery, students watched the final debate about the bill to continue the funding of the US Government. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York), Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), and Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) all gave speeches as the Senate debated the merits of the bill. When a vote to end cloture was held, many Senators came into the chamber to vote including: Senator Warren (D-MA), Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), Margaret Hassan (D-NH), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and Senator Lyndsey Graham (R-SC).
The last part of a very long day was the opening ceremony event at the Hilton Hotel. The Georgetown University Model UN Opening Ceremonies take place in the same ballroom where the White House Correspondents’ Dinner happens. The keynote speaker was the current Director of the Peace Corps, Dr. Josephine Olsen, PhD, MSW. A former peace corps volunteer, Dr. Olsen urged the 3,100 high school Model UN delegates to consider the Peace Corps when they finish college. Her message was hopeful, optimistic and up-lifting.
Later in the trip students traveled on the DC Metro to the National Museum of African American History. Rich in history, interactive, and full of video clips, narratives, and firsthand accounts, the museum transports visitors back to the 1400’s and progresses by century. Artifacts include an original speech by Frederick Douglass, newspaper excerpts by written Ida B. Wells, the original Brown v. Board of Education decision issued by the 1954 Supreme Court, the pen used by President Lyndon Johnson to sign the 1964 Civil Rights Act, an exhibit about the contributions of the Oprah Winfrey Show, and a hand-edited portion of Barack Obama’s inaugural speech.
Throughout the trip there were several connections with BC High graduates. Three BC High alumni, Pat Walsh ’17, Justin Rich ’18, and Sachin Meier ’18, are involved in the Georgetown University Model UN Conference. Pat and Justin are members of the overseeing secretariat that organizes NAIMUN.
While leaving the 11:00 AM Mass at Georgetown’s Dahlgren Chapel of the Sacred Heart, students met Dr. Paul Manuel ’77 and his spouse Dr. Anne Marie Commisa. Dr. Manuel is a government professor and Director of Leadership Programs at American University. Dr. Commisa is Associate Director of the Master’s in American Government program at Georgetown University. Dr. Commisa spoke to the NAIMUN US Senate committee, attended by Josh Exantus ’21 and Teddy Pasto ’21.
Harry Clow ’15, a senior at Georgetown, led the group on a tour of the university. He was accompanied by Gavin D’Souza ’17, a Georgetown sophomore, and Trevor Hu ’18, a freshman. Harry works part-time for the Georgetown Undergraduate Admissions Office and is about to be commissioned into the United States Navy. He will be assigned to a surface warfare ship in San Diego shortly after his graduation from Georgetown University in May. While at the Georgetown bookstore, the group had an unexpected meeting with Jared Simonelli ’18. Jared is a plebe at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis.
The group posed for a photo on the same steps of the Old North (1795) main building where 14 US Presidents dating back to George Washington have spoken. Harry Clow pointed out that the building served as a hospital for Union and Confederate troops during the Civil War. Georgetown University adopted its official colors of blue and gray in 1876, symbolizing the union of the North and South following the Civil War.
Story and photos by Mr. Argento.